Recently I finished Lilli Thal’s Mimus and was reminded throughout the book of Cornelia Funke’s Inkheart series, and not just because both authors are translated from their native German and appeal specifically to teenagers with a burgeoning interest in fantasy.
Each author possesses an astonishing ability to outline a fantasy realm, people it with fantastic characters, and quickly provide a believable set of rules and boundaries that the action must follow. All this while not adhering to established tenets of fantasy: elves are fair, graceful and strong, dwarves are miners and love nothing more than precious metals, etc. Thal and Funke each give a fresh feel to the genre.
These authors provide a perfect starting point for young adults who grew up liking a good fable or story, but who are intimidated by thick novels or fantasy and science fiction authors with dozens of titles under their belts, each transpiring in a specific paradigm with little space given to background for new readers. Both Thal and Funke certainly know how to tell a story, and one that appeals to most ages above grammar school.
Although Mimus is Thal’s first work to be released in English, Funke’s novels are widely available. In fact, I was introduced to her fiction about two years ago while browsing in a Tokyo bookstore’s massive English language section with a friend of mine, a Japanese teacher of English who loves recommending YA fiction to me. Her testimonial was so emphatic, I bought my own copy of Inkheart, rather than borrow hers.
Coincidentally, I looked up Funke while writing this post and see that in breaking news, the cover for the third installment of Inkheart, has just been released today. Inkdeath has a release date of October 2008, so if you’re already a Funke fan, you can look forward to that.
As for Thal, with three previous award winning young adult novels released in Germany, I expect we’ll be seeing more of her work in translation as well.